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Restaurants & Bars 7

Farmer Boys: The Quest For Burger & Shake Nirvana

chino wayne | Jul 26, 2002 09:53 PM

I first became aware of Farmer Boys while cruising the flatlands of southeast Ontario in Herman a couple of years ago. I paid it no mind then and for a long time since then as it just looked like a local version of a typical fast food joint that was nestled in between warehouses in “Distributionland”. Then about a year ago another branch of Farmer Boys opened closer to home in Chino. More recently, I remember a posting that mc michael had put up on the board about a visit to a newly opened branch in Hollywood. My recollection is that michael panned this place, and at that time I figured, better that michael did this field work than I, since it was apparently not up to ‘hound standards.

I realized recently though, that Farmer Boys has been knawing at me. I think it is because before the local area became known as “Distributionland”, it was “Dairyland”, and there still are a hell of a lot of cows and farmers around here. So it just seemed that the natural and right thing to do, would be to support a local dining establishment that pays homage to all of the farm boys who have come out of the land around here.

The Mrs. wanted to check out the model homes at a new tract in Chino last weekend, so I agreed to take her over there (but not to play looky-loo myself). I figured while Herman and I were parked in front of the models waiting for our mistress, as we have so often done at other new home tracts and various shopping venues, I could try out a little snack from Farmer Boys. Herman, the Mrs. and I then paid our first visit to Farmer Boys via their drive-through that afternoon.

While the Mrs. inspected some ridiculously over-priced, under whelming (meaning these babies were priced from the low $500,000’s, had tiny bedrooms, cheap construction, cheap, cheap cabinets, cheap fiberglass modular bathroom fixtures, were breeding grounds for homeowners’ proliferation of cancerous offspring from the adjacent high-tension power lines, and were within walking distance for any escapee from the nearby California Institution For Men in Chino) homes, (that are apparently almost sold-out to desperate suck… buyers). I enjoyed a diet Pepsi and an order of onion rings from Farmer Boys while relaxing in Herman.

This first Farmer Boys experience seemed to bode well, as the onion rings were far better than what this ‘hound has encountered at typical fast food joints. They were prepared from fresh, thick cut (about a half an inch to an inch) rings of onions, with a tight, firm, very thin breading. The breading was not soft or mushy-like as in a typical beer batter breading, nor was it clumpy and thin like, say Tony Roma onion “loaf”. Nor was the breading stale or freezer burn tasting. These were distinct rings of real onion, with a nice crackly bread coating. The only downside was the fact that they did not seem to be seasoned with anything, but a liberal sprinkling of salt took care of that one deficiency.

The fact that Farmer Boys are not captives to the Coca-Cola company was also gratifying. I have previously established that diet Pepsi is far and away superior to the nastiness of diet Coke, so it was a good omen that Farmer Boys were not foisting the nasty stuff off on me.

Encouraged by my experience this past weekend, I decided to zip over to Farmer Boys this afternoon and pick up something for my lunch break. I had to have the onion rings, of course, and I reasoned that they needed to be paired with a double bacon-cheeseburger and a large chocolate shake. After all beef, cheese, milk and ice cream made this town.

On the way over and on the return trip from Farmer Boys my taste buds were telling my brain “feed me, feed me” whipping themselves up in to a frenzy in anticipation of buger-ring-shake. I could barely control Herman, my eyes beginning to glaze over while stopped, right on the railroad tracks at a red light, almost oblivious when the green-arrow turned on, overcome by the wafting aroma of onion rings emanating from the seat beside me.

When I got back to the old homestead, I quickly plated the burger, laid down the bag of rings and tore it open on the plate, and popped the plastic lid off the shake. I really wanted to love the Farmer Boys dining experience, to be able to wax poetic about Farmer Boys, truly, after all, life has been quite barren here in The Dining Wilderness That Is The Inland Empire all these years, and I am a died-in-the-wool ‘hound, on the noble and never ending mission to find deliciousness. But alas my over-stimulated, under-gratified taste buds did not find nirvana today.

The rings were good, just as they were the last time, the burger, although serviceable, was not great, and the shake was a total disappointment. The burger was approximately the diameter of a Whopper. Layered from the bottom up on the sesame seed bun were, thin thousand island dressing, dill pickle chips, leaf lettuce, tomato slice, onion slivers, burger, cheese, bacon, burger. The burger patties were very thin, but done on a “charcoal broiler” rather than a “griddle”. In other words like a Burger King of Carl’s as opposed to a McDonalds or In-N-Out. I have had Burger King burgers before and Carl’s (though not Carl’s “Six Dollar Burger”), this burger was better. But is was not great. The meat was so thin that there was no hope of even a hint of any meat juice, since it was cooked through and through. The lettuce seemed to be wilting (unlike the lettuce on an In-N-Out burger, that stays fresh and crisp all the way to the last bite), the tomato slice must have been sliced on a slicing machine calibrated by a micrometer, it was so thin, I could not taste it. If you did not see the onion slivers, you would not have known there was any onion on the burger. But the burger did have a nice meaty, char coaly, cheesy, ever so slightly bacony taste. So I did enjoy it and wolfed it down.

The abomination passed off as a chocolate shake resembled some product from the American petro-chemical industrial complex, likely extruded from some machine that someone poured imitation milk shake mix in to. It was the typical fast food all purpose “milk shake” liquid base that is far from thick and creamy, almost too thin, and then most likely infused with compressed air to make it “fluffy” and give it some “body”. Adding insult to injury, the ersatz chocolate syrup must have come out of an eye-dropper, and then was barely and incompletely mixed, so this “chocolate” shake, did not taste of chocolate, but rather had an almost “chemically” after-taste, and was about as brown as a sheet of 20 pound copier paper.

This was a real shame. Here I was in the middle the largest concentrations of cows in the United States, and I could not get a decent milk shake. The last decent milk shake I had in Chino was two years ago at the local McDonalds, but that is just a pleasant, hazy memory now, as apparently the McDonalds corporate office got wind that some renegade was selling real milk shakes at their Chino outlet, and the next thing I knew, it was extrusion machine time at McDonalds. The Chino Chamber of Commerce should hide their faces in shame. The biggest cow town in the country can’t even sport a great burger and shake.

So now, as I reflect upon the dining debacle this afternoon, I see what has to be done. It is as clear to me as the aroma of those 300,000 cows who are domiciled in my neighborhood. It is my calling, my duty, my noble ‘hound mission, to continue the quest for a great burger and shake, no matter what far corners of The Dining Wilderness That Is The Inland Empire that quest may take me. No matter what peril may fall upon me, no matter what sacrifices I must make. No matter how many uninspiring burgers or bad imitations of milk shakes I may have to consume. It is up to me to prove to all ‘houndom, that, yes, there are great burgers and shakes to be found and conquered here in The Dining Wilderness That Is The Inland Empire. So today I make a vow, that I will not rest until my poor neglected taste buds have found burger and shake nirvana.

So fellow ‘hounds, until the new In-N-Out opens in town, if you are heading south on Central Avenue in Chino from the 60, and just need a snack before visiting that former business colleague who now resides at the prison at the foot of Central Avenue. Bypass the Jack-In-The-Box on Central Avenue, bypass the McDonalds on Central Avenue, and pay a visit to Farmer Boys, on Central Avenue between Chino Avenue and Schaefer Avenue, get yourself a double bacon-cheeseburger, some rings, and a Pepsi, and think of me blazing a trail, on the quest to burger and shake nirvana, somewhere in the wilderness…

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